Categorized | Organizing Solutions

Happy Marriage: A Look into My Own Marriage

Posted on 21 March 2011

Happy Marriage: All about My Own Marriage

I recently read a book review on a book entitled, Spousonomics: Using economics to master love, marriage, and dirty dishes. It’s a very current book, recently written and gaining a lot of media attention because of the cute “play” on economic terms in relation to marriage and the idea of household responsibilities.

Here are some of the examples the Authors of Spousonomics used to relate economic principles directly to marriage and household chores:

Division of Labor (Or, Why You Should Do the Dishes): Exposing the fallacy of the 50/50 marriage split. Some people are better at, say, making school lunches, while others panic at the sight of a vacuum cleaner. Here’s a tip: Do what you’re “relatively” good at and “trade” the rest.

Incentives (Or, Getting Your Spouse to Do What You Want): How getting your spouse to finally pay the bills on time is simply a matter of finding the right incentive.

Trade-offs (Or, The Art of Getting Over It): The simple beauty of the cost-benefit analysis. Let’s break down that four-day trip to Cabo with your friends. Costs: A grumpy wife, $700 airfare, kids that miss you. Benefits: a tan, uninterrupted sleep. Verdict?

Very cute idea, if you ask me, which is why the book is quickly gaining media coverage.

happy marriageI’ve shared this with you before that my own secret to an organized home and a happy marriage is a fairly equal distribution of household responsibility. Some will say I’m lucky, some will claim that my husband is more willing than most men to share household responsibilities because he’s a marriage therapist, I say it’s doable even if your husband isn’t a marriage therapist 🙂

Our house is not exactly a 50-50 split, it’s just that we approach our home and our family as a team effort. I guess if you want to use some of the Spousonomic principles you could say that we use the “division of labor” principle really well.

The Division of labor concept is a fancy way of describing an old tried and true organizing concept: Delegating. To be an effective delegator, you need to motivate people to do what it is they do well, instead of what they don’t do well.

For instance, if your husband tends to mix reds with whites in your laundry machine, you would NOT want to delegate doing the laundry to him. It’s not an effective use of his resources. Or, if your kids tend to be careless with breakables, having them dry the dishes would NOT be a good chore for them to take upon themselves.

If you’re interested in dividing household responsibilities with your spouse and also with your children, and you’re inspired by the idea of Spousonomics, you need to learn 2 very important life skills.

1. Learn how to be a great Delegator. Learn what each member of your family is good at and then study how to be an effective motivator using incentives, rewards, and genuine feedback. Remember, “people work harder for praises than raises!”

2. Learn how to communicate in a safe way. This might be another plug for my husband but it’s really true. You MUST learn how to communicate with your family, in a way that promotes safety for everyone (without shame, blame, accusations) in order to enjoy peace and calm in your home.

Sure it’s nice to divide up responsibilities but if you don’t know how to communicate AROUND these responsibilities, I don’t care how many economic principles you mention and use with your spouse, inevitably- resentment of these responsibilities will ensue if you don’t know how to communicate about them.

“But I’ve tried to delegate well and communicate properly with my spouse and he STILL doesn’t help out around the house!”

“I’ve asked my wife to stop leaving things on the floor and she still never picks up her mess!”

Does this sound like you? If you are starting sentences with, “You never…” Or, “You Have to”, or “Why don’t you”, most likely your home is not running as a team because people in your home don’t feel comfortable or even safe around what you are asking them to do.
Here’s another clue: What might not be obvious to you is that sometimes compliments can actually be back-handed, sarcastic criticisms and those also serve to create resentment. For instance, “Thanks for taking out the trash because you never take out the trash.”

There are definite tools you can learn for how to communicate effectively, and the one I recommend the most is the Imago dialogue (described more at http://www.TheRelationshipRabbi.com). It’s by far the most successful communication tool and can be used for ANY issue that comes up in your relationship, no matter if it’s about something like household chores or even issues that are far more serious.

The secret to my marriage? It’s a definite balance of great delegating and communication. The two definitely go together. It’s not ONLY about sharing chores, the more important part is how you communicate AROUND and ABOUT the chores.

If you can utilize the two brief techniques I’ve mentioned above: Delegating and Communicating, you will truly be on your way towards enjoying a home that runs more like a team, between you and your husband as well as your children.

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